x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

BCCI are unwise to continue picking fights simply for the sake of it

The board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is characterised by many as the lightning rod for the game's ills.

In the 1954/55 season, Chelsea, who had just won their first league title, were prevented from playing in the first European Cup.

The main opposition came from Alan Hardaker, the secretary of the English Football League, whose xenophobic attitude toward continental competitions epitomised the insularity that had seen English football left behind by the likes of Hungary, 6-3 and 7-1 victors in two 1953 friendlies that marked a new era for the game.

That insularity stemmed from the feeling that Britannia knew best, and it is ironic that such a hubris-driven attitude is now best illustrated by the actions of a cricket board that once represented a colony of the Empire.

The board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is characterised by many as the lightning rod for the game's ills.

While such a stereotype is unhelpful, the organisation does itself no favours with often-breathtaking arrogance.

The latest instalment came last Monday night, when not a single Indian player or official attended the International Cricket Council (ICC) awards, despite the team hotel being little more than a short walk away.

Invitations had been sent earlier, and an email reminder reached the office of N Srinivasan, the board's president-elect, five days before the function.

Afterwards, once Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, had expressed his dismay at the Indian no-show, Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI's chief administrative officer, told the Times of India: "Lorgat can say whatever he wants to. We don't want to comment on it."

MS Dhoniwon the Spirit of Cricket award, for the decision to recall England's Ian Bell in the Trent Bridge Test at Nottingham, but was not around to collect it, just as he was absent in 2009 when named ODI Cricketer of the Year.

Then too, Dhoni was in Johannesburg where the function was held. It is pointless to blame a player though. When on tour, the team manager decides itineraries and official programmes in consultation with the board.

In 2010, Indian players did make it to the awards in Bangalore, but Srinivasan and other top officials were conspicuous by their absence.

It is hard to say where such churlishness comes from.

Two decades ago, India could have complained of the ICC being an Anglo-Aussie old boys' club.

Now, with Sharad Pawar as president and any far-reaching legislation impossible without Indian approval, slighting the ICC is as pointless as spitting on one's own doorstep.

Such our-way-or-the-highway behaviour is nothing new either. In his book, Shadows Across the Playing Field, Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan Cricket Board chief between 2003 and 2006, writes of the shambles that was the Asian endeavour to host the 2011 World Cup.

"There was consternation in the ranks when we - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan - pointed out that our joint bid was bound to hit the rocks because India had not remotely completed the data provided by the ICC," he says.

"Sharad Pawar was naturally deeply upset to learn of this potential disaster and ordered his secretary Niranjan Shah to sit up all night with his South Asian colleagues to complete the data.

"Next morning, I saw a bleary-eyed Salim Altar, my chief executive, at breakfast.

"I enquired from him the results of the night vigil. He said, 'I'm afraid the task could not be completed. We sat up with Niranjan Shah until 3am but then the effort collapsed because the Indian board simply did not have the factual data.'"

Despite an outstanding presentation from Australia and New Zealand, a combination of arm-twisting and financial sweeteners saw the subcontinental bid given a month's extension. Great responsibility with great power? Why bother until pride brings about a calamitous fall?